Tuesday, August 25, 2015

REVIEW: 'Playing House' - Emma Helps Mark Deal with His Divorce While Maggie Chases Her Dream in 'Employee of the Month'

USA's Playing House - Episode 2.05 "Employee of the Month"

An injured Mark moves in with Emma and Maggie. Maggie struggles with a career that might have been.

Playing House has always been a very aspirational comedy set in a very idyllic town. This is a community of people who are best friends with everyone and want to pitch in whenever possible. These people don't worry about jobs or money. That has never been the humor of the show. Emma did have that job in China but that was largely a construct to explain her re-entry into this community. Now she is a full part of this world as is the audience. All of the characters have dreams that they are allowed to chase. That's the appeal of this show. Even though there's a lot of divorce, it lives in a reality that cherishes the idea of being able to do whatever one wants to do. That has always been a great message. This episode delivers it in a slightly different but still very empowering and funny way.

Maggie has taken a job as a waitress. She is working alongside Candy, who shows such an enthusiasm to her job. Candy enjoys all the perks of this gig. She loves to perform the birthday song just as much as she loves being motor-boated in the walk in. It's a job that she loves doing. It's what makes her happy. The boss, Phil (Veep's Matt Walsh), is also quite fond of the job and sees it as something that everyone can do for the rest of their lives. Sure, he has the dream of one day being on Undercover Boss. But he is very passionate about this workplace. Both of them are doing what they want to be doing. They both love having Maggie around. They appreciate her and think she contributes so much to the job. But this isn't Maggie's dream. It's just a job for her. Something to fill her day and make some money. It takes her away from Charlotte though. And that's what makes her want to change her life. If she has to leave Charlotte during the day, she wants to be doing something that is very meaningful to her.

A run-in with an old friend from nursing school places the idea that maybe she could return to the job she wanted to do with her life before life got in her way. This is the first time the audience is hearing about her nursing school past. At times, it is an info dump. She had one semester left of school but had to drop out in order to take care of Zach after their parents died. After that, she got married and the rest is history. Now she has the support of Emma to lean on. But it's still a scaring proposition to go back so many years later. What if she's not as good as she once was? Is she being crazy for even thinking about this idea? But everyone is so supportive of her and her dreams. If this is something she seriously wants to do, then everyone else will adjust in order to make it happen. That's how great her friends are. They are willing to step up with Charlotte's care in order for Maggie to do this so she can later help even more people throughout the area. Maggie really does love helping people. She's not great at asking for it but people are always willing to do whatever she needs done because she is just so beloved in this community. She will make a fantastic nurse.

All of this came about simply because Mark is spiraling in the wake of his divorce. Like Emma wanted to point out, he is dealing with other people's problems to avoid his own. That's why he wants to tackle so many projects around Maggie and Emma's house. He becomes obsessed with the idea of making things better for them and Charlotte. He wants to keep them safe because they have been good friends for him. He injures himself which forces him to take a break from all that work. He insists on going to the doctor and that leads to this new dream for Maggie. But he also does something for Emma as well. The romantic tension between the two of them hasn't really been a part of the story this season. It's something that still exists but everyone has treated it like it's history that doesn't need to be repeated. She is happily in a new relationship with Rabbi Dan.

And yet, when given the choice of hanging out with Mark or Dan, Emma chooses to stay in and play video games with Mark. She ignores Dan's call like it's nothing. Her relationship isn't nothing. She enjoys spending as much time with him as she can. She wants to be dating him. But she still just casually swiped ignore on her phone. She got so caught up in the moment with Mark. A playful evening takes the turn for the awkward and romantic. The two of them do have a banter because of their friendship. They are comfortable with each other. But that comfortability also leads to things getting too close too quickly. Neither of them expected to get as close as they did. But they did. They didn't do anything. But that was largely because Maggie walked into the room. They awkwardly left the situation and then didn't talk about it at all afterwards. It's a strange moment for the show. It's creating a love triangle between Emma, Mark and Dan. One that should be interesting as the show heads into its final stretch of the season.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Employee of the Month" was written by Anthony King and directed by Stuart McDonald.
  • What say you, can you have too much succulents or not enough succulents?
  • Emma: "Why is he wearing a garbage bag?" Maggie: "Sweating it out Silver Linings Playbook style, I guess." Emma: "Okay, that's not good because that guy was straight up insane."
  • Emma: "It's just Digiorno Pizza man." Mark: "Well, it tastes like delivery." Okay, Digiorno is clearly a sponsor for the show, right? Otherwise, why else would this make it into the episode?
  • Emma: "I've been watching a lot of Steve Harvey lately. Since Oprah went off the air, I don't really know what to do."
  • Mark: "I'm in pain and I gotta go to Cabot Cove because nothing bad ever happens there." Emma: "Only bad things happen there, there's a murder there like every week." Mark: "Yes, and then Jessica solves it because she's a crime fighter and a novelist. And that's sexy as hell."
  • Emma: "But Maggie, that's where we get our waffles!"